“When It Comes To Dealing With Anxiety, What Not To Say Is Just As Important As What To Say.”
Truth is, many of us have friends, family, acquaintances or colleagues with an anxiety disorder. Also, a lot of us tend to say stuff despite our best intentions, that can be detrimental to the emotional and mental health of someone dealing with anxiety. Below is an official list of what not to say to someone with an anxiety disorder:
1. Get over it!
Anxiety is a mental/emotional condition and it is simply not medically possible for sufferers to ‘get over it.’ Like other mental ailments, anxiety can be both subjective and personal. Similarly, our reaction towards people with anxiety can also be personal and subjective. However, our reaction should not be flippant or dismissive, which is what ‘get over it’ conveys.
2. You need to just calm down and relax!
It’s easy for the unsensitized person to give all kinds of solutions to someone dealing with anxiety, and telling them different ways to relax is one of them. However, it’s vital to note that one of the primary aspects of an anxiety disorder is the inability to relax.
Thus, asking an anxiety sufferer to just calm down and relax is like asking a person with the flu to stop coughing!
3. Have a drink!
Many people currently dealing with anxiety also tend to have substance dependency or substance abuse issues. Many more may also be in some kind of program to help them recover from the addiction. Hence, offering a drink or other mood altering products can be not just plain insensitive, but also really harmful.
4. Do not overanalyze or think too much!
Over-thinking and over-analysis of even the smallest things is another aspect of anxiety disorder. It is what causes anxiety sufferers to be in a constant state of alertness, leading to increased worrying about future events.
The vicious cycle of racing thoughts, worrying about what may go wrong, and spike in anxious behaviors is almost a never ending one. Telling anxiety sufferers to stop overanalyzing will only result in them worrying about one more thing, i.e. that they are over-thinking.
5. I’m also SO stressed!
Most of us don’t understand that anxiety and stress are not the same thing and we tend to used them interchangeably. Anxiety is defined as an unconscious reaction to some kind of threat (most of the time) and it is marked by physical symptoms like higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, mood swings, and flushed face.
Stress is temporary and symptoms soon fade away. However, dealing with anxiety is an emotional and mental condition that needs treatment in the forms of CBT and NLP for the symptoms to get better. Telling an anxiety sufferer that you are stressed as well not just trivializes a sufferer’s feelings, but also seems dismissive of the sufferer’s mental state.
6. Other people have it worse-off!
Telling an anxiety sufferer that many other people have it worse-off is another way we tend to trivialize the problems being endured by them. This statement however also adds a bit of guilt, thereby making the anxiety sufferer feel ashamed.
It’s important to note that anxiety sufferers are as much aware of the problems in the world as you, and that their anxiety has nothing to do with lack of knowledge about varied global sufferings. So make sure to take these 6 suggestions on what not to say to a person with anxiety disorder to heart, it just may be what they need.